So, I went and saw Real Steel this past weekend, you know, since it’s almost out of theaters and all. I had originally planned to see it when it first released, but things happen and other movies come out, so I didn’t quite get around to going. When the trailers first started playing on television, I wasn’t overly impressed. However, after considering a few things such as – it has robots, it has robots boxing, it has Wolverine (aka Hugh Jackman), and of course, IT HAS ROBOTS! – I figured what the hell. Turns out, I was very pleasantly surprised.
I went into the movie figuring I would be entertained by plenty of violent CG robot-on-robot action (phrased that way on purpose). What I got for the price of my ticket was a very engaging underdog story with solid character development and strong cast dynamics. Now, this is no Oscar-winning film by far (it is Rock Em Sock Em Robots come to life on the big screen after all), but as a viewer I wasn’t bombarded with the montage of robot boxing matches I anticipated.
The film tells the story of Charlie Kenton (played by Hugh Jackman), a down on his luck former boxer who has found himself slumming the local robot boxing circuits trying to make some cash to pay off the numerous shady-types he owes money to – guys like Kevin Durand‘s Ricky, the last guy to KO poor ole’ Charlie. Things turn sour for Kenton, but before he hits the road and heads back home, he finds out a former girlfriend, and mother of his 11-year-old son Max (played by Dakota Goyo) has died. Kenton leaves Ricky hanging for 10K and heads back home to the dilapidated gym of his former (and deceased) trainer, now run by said trainers daughter, Bailey, played by LOST‘s Evangeline Lilly. Through a shady backroom deal, Charlie agrees to keep Max for a couple of months in exchange for cash, before he will sign custody over to Max’s aunt…. Great dad, huh? It isn’t long until Max shows he’s his father’s son and the two embark on a journey of bonding, redemption, and… oh yeah… ROBOT BOXING!!!
After some serious bad luck, the father-son duo’s fortunes change when they discover an old discarded sparring bot, named Atom, in a junkyard. Together, the three underdogs – a washed-up boxer, an eleven year old kid and an undersized and underestimated robot – soon turn the robot boxing world on its ear.
I’m not going to say much else, because the move is definitely better than to deserve spoiling. Go out and catch it in theaters before it’s gone and if you miss it, catch it on DVD and Blu-ray when it is released a couple of months down the road. If you love it as much as I did, you may even go and buy yourself an Atom action figure to draw some underdog inspiration from. Oh, and one more thing, it is rumored that a sequel coming out in 2014. It should be pretty damn good.